Layar, the mobile augmented reality platform and maker of an app by the same name, has announced that its Layar Player tool is out of beta and available to all. This tool allows mobile developers to embed Augmented Reality (AR) into mobile applications just by using a piece of code.
The functionality, provided for free, offers the same experience as is found in the company's own Layar Browser application, the company notes via blog post.
For those unfamiliar with the term, "Augmented Reality" refers to technology that adds another layer of information on top of what can be seen using your smartphone's camera. (That is, it "augments" your "reality" with data!)
With the company's own smartphone application, you can see things like nearby Twitter updates, information on landmarks via Wikipedia, details about local businesses, and much more, just by selecting that "layer" from the app's content listings section. Using the phone's GPS, accelerometer and compass data, the app knows where you are and how you're positioned in order to place markers on your phone's screen denoting these items' locations in the real world - the "reality" part of "Augmented Reality."
?Alongside the Player's launch, there are also three new mobile applications that take advantage of the tool's functionality: a Bing-sponsored game called "Snowboard Hero," "Layar Trade," an app that lets you view projects from local builders and contractors and a third app called "VerbeterdeBuurt" that lets Netherlands residents post issues and ideas for neighborhood improvements. (Layar is a Dutch company, it should be noted.)
According to Layar's VP of Platform and Community, Claire Boonstra, "this year is about the democratization of augmented reality as we work to find ways to make it easier to create and publish AR content for all." Layar Player is just the start of this democratization, she said - the company has more activities in store for the year ahead.
The Layar Player code requires the use of iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4, and it only runs on iPhones running iOS 4.0 or higher. It is available as a free download from here.